About a month ago, a good friend of mine introduced me to Racket.com. It’s a new social media platform that hosts audio files limited to 9 minutes in length. The idea is to share short snippets of audio that can be listened to without all of the commitment that podcasts require.
I immediately loved the idea. I’m an audio person at heart, but an hour-long production always felt a little overkill for the things I like to talk about.
So, after a little bit of struggle finding an early invite code, I created my racket account and made this: https://racket.com/xymktg/rTFt5
In it, I talk about my experiences as a freelancer and contrast them to working in the corporate world.
If you’re not inclined to listen to the racket (it’s 7 minutes long), I’ll sum it up in one word: “Freedom”.
While freelancing is not a walk in the park, and there’s a ton of struggles that go with it, having the freedom that comes with this lifestyle is a huge breath of fresh air for me.
Freelancing gives me the freedom to work when I want to work
In the corporate world, while I may have had more time off than in my current role as a jack-of-all-trades, I never felt that I had free time. And that’s because I was constantly dreading the inevitable drive back into the office.
Even my hours outside of work were dictated by tomorrow’s return. I didn’t hate my job, but I didn’t have control over my day-to-day, and it made me feel like I had no control over even the time I wasn’t there.
Freelancing gives me the freedom to work with who I want
On top of choosing when to work and having control over what tasks I spend my time on while working, I also love the fact that I get to choose who I work with. I don’t talk about this publicly much because I like to leave the past in the past, but in my last position, I had an unfortunate experience of working under a workplace bully who was allowed to operate with near impunity as employee after employee suffered emotionally and mentally from dealing with this personality.
Needless to say, I firmly believe in the idea that everyone should be treated with a respect and dignity. I pride myself at being able to keep a strong relationship with those whom I work with, but if at any point in time I find myself in a situation where I’m not being treated well, as a small business owner, I have the right to refuse service to anyone (barring discriminatory practices of course).
Thankfully, I haven’t had to part ways with a client like this and my freedom to work with whomever I want to more-so works in the opposite direction: It allows me to focus on who I DO want to work with.
An example of this is the recent project I did where I redesigned my father’s website. My dad is literally one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met, but it’s a bit sad that him and I never got to meet each other until I was 19 years old, due to him being in prison for nearly 20 years.
Without going into detail on my perspective on the school-to-prison pipeline in the US, the inexplicable harshness of a criminal justice system on immigrants and people of color, or the personal entanglements and complications that led my dad to being in prison, I have to say that I felt extraordinarily lucky to have been able to work with him on this project.
The work he does is powerful, and his strong character and deep sense of emotional commitment to his work carries through in all of his writing. Working with him is just one example of someone that I feel so blessed and honored to be able to work with, and so I’m very lucky to have had that as a freelancer.
Freelancing gives me the freedom to be myself—unapologetically
In addition to having the freedom to work when I want to work, and with who and I want to work, maybe the best part of freelancing so far has been the ability to feel completely free to be who I am.
Here’s a funny little story (that I recently told on Just Community):
At my last company, I was part of a group of employees that were starting the PRIDE Business Resource Group. It was all good and everything until I realized that the person spearheading the group decided they didn’t want to include the letter Q in the LGBTQ+ acronym. All fine and dandy, except for when you’re someone like me, who identifies as Queer and nonbinary and don’t really appreciate purposefully being left out of the conversation.
Their reasoning for this, by the way, was that they didn’t want to offend the executive team and upper management in our company, fearing that it would be too radical to use the term in our environment.
I’m not sure that’s an accurate claim against the upper-management of the company at the time, but I would definitely say that the feeling that you had to be careful about how you identify and what (or who) you stand up for was pervasive. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. In fact, don’t even look in the wrong direction around the hand that feeds you.
Now, I’m very happy to say that my differences are not only tolerated and accepted, but are celebrated. When you work for yourself, I guess you don’t have to be scared of breaking the dress code even if it’s just you being you. And you don’t have to worry about not being accepted by colleagues who are only scared of being rejected themselves.
Freelancing is the freedom I always wish I knew I could have before this.
So, if you listened to the racket, you probably would have been much more entertained than reading this long stream of consciousness. But thank you for taking the time to read this nonetheless. I sincerely hope that if you found this particular article you are inspired to feel courageous enough to take your life into your own hands. It’s not easy, but it sure is a lot of fun!